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  MSNBC    Melissa Harris- Perry  

    May 24, 2014
    7:00 - 9:01am PDT  

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start building your confident retirement today. marge: you know, there's a more enjoyable way to get your fiber. try phillips fiber good gummies. they're delicious, and an excellent source of fiber to help support regularity. wife: mmmm husband: these are good! marge: the tasty side of fiber. from phillips. this morning my question, does mark cube an have a point? and confessions of a real-life mother. but first, the case for reparations. good morning, i'm melissa harris-perry. come with me back to the summer of 2005. on june 1st, 2005, the state of
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illinois exhumed the body of emmitt till whose kidnapping, torture and murder in 1955 was a galvanizing event of the modern civil rights movement. the exhumation of his body was ordered by the justice department in an effort to reopen the case and offer some semblance of justice after more than 50 years. less than a month later on june 21st, 2005, a mississippi jury convicted edgar ray killen on three counts of manslaughter for the 1964 slaying of three civil rights workers. james earl cheney, andrew goodman and michael shwernor. he was convicted and sentenced to 60 years in prison so that renewed till investigation and that late killen prosecution were public statements that are you -- repudiated a time when dissenting black voices were
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silenced. perhaps the most profound and unlikely moment of racial sec sill yags in the summer of 2005 came on june 13th. on that date the united states senate apologized for failing to act to halt lynching in america. you see, between 1880 and 1960, nearly 5,000 americans were murdered through acts of lynching. most victims were african-american men and women living in the u.s. south, murdered by white mobs who acted with the full knowledge and tacit consent of their communities and local law enforcement. during these decades of domestic terrorism, more than 200 pieces of anti-lynching legislation were introduced to the united states congress. the most successful, the dire anti-lynching bill introduced by missouri republican l.c. dire. after nearly a decade of aggressive lobbying by the naacp and citizen-led efforts throughout the nation and reporting by courageous black journalists in the south, the
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bill passed the house of representatives in 1922 and the bill proposed prison sentences and steep fines for those who participated in lynching. if passed into law, this bill would have forced the federal government to assume responsibility for human rights violations occurring in the south. the bill was fierce leo posed by southern democrats and died on the senate floor. in june, 2005, the u.s. senate reversed this shameful history and apologized for its decades of inaction. the resolution was jointly proposed and shepherded through to passage by two southern senators, louisiana democrat mary landrieu and virginia republican george allen. >> the senate's role, as you know we stated all day, is the senate is uniquely culpable in the sense that the house passed resolutions three times, strong resolutions against lynching. seven presidents from both parties asked congress, asked
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the senate to act and the senate failed to do so. >> don't miss it, because this was a staggering moment. an apology indicating a meaningful understanding and awareness that american lawmakers cannot askew the need to directly confront the life-threatening realities of racial inequality if they hope to fulfill their basic responsibility as policy makers. then just ten weeks later, this happened. hurricane katrina tore down the inadequate federal levees surrounding the city of new orleans and revealed just how utterly unjust america's racial caste system remains. you see, many african-americans in new orleans were relegated to dangerous low ground and abandoned by their government in the face of a storm. they embodied the vast and continuing disparity between the american promise and the national reality. the men, women and children whose starvation and dehydration, suffering
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displacement and deaths were captured on the evening news. many of them were constituents of senator landrieu, who just weeks before had spearheaded a powerful articulation of the need for racial justice. so why am i telling you these stories? because together the events of summer 2005 give lie to the notion that simply acknowledging historic injustice is sufficient for producing contemporary fairness. an apology is nice. but it is not a substitute for action and structural change. this week the entire country has been invited to join in a conversation that has been ongoing really since the 1860s. the conversation about the need for reparations in america. this claim of national responsibility to black men, women and children was actually first articulated as american policy by general william t. sherman. you remember him. he cut a path of destruction across the confederacy, burning down the city of atlanta and breaking the hearts of dixie defenders along the way. it was general sherman's field
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order 15 that confiscated a swath of land that reached from south carolina all the way south to florida and included the sea islands of georgia and extended 30 miles west onto the mainland. his order set aside 400,000 acres of land and it was to be redistributed to newly emancipated black families in those states. according to section three, each family shall have a plot of not more than 40 acres of tillable ground. eventually nearly 40,000 freed men and women settled on the land, minus the mule. that happened later in a separate order when general sherman authorized the u.s. army to offer mules to the settlers, not as a freebie but simply on loan. his order marked the government's first systematic policy attempt at reckoning for america's original sin of slavery but ultimately that attempt would end in failure, because sherman's radical landry distribution order lasted only slightly longer than abraham li lincoln's presidency. a scant few months.
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and it's why for many of the descentants of enslaved people, 40 acres and a mule has become a symbolic reminder of the long legacy of slavery and america's promises of redress that have never been kept. reparations that are due but still unpaid. still unpaid in part because of few policy issues divide us more than the issue of reparations. in 2005 in the aftermath of hurricane katrina, two fellow researchers and i surveyed more than 1200 americans asking a series of questions about support for federal reparations for african-americans as compensation for historic injustices. people in our study were asked do you think the federal government should or should not pay money to african-americans whose ancestors were slaves as compensation for that slavery. we also asked do you think the federal government should or should not pay money to african-americans as compensation for the system of anti-black violence and legal segregation known as jim crow. we also asked do you think that reparations should or should not be paid to survivors and their
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descentants of the large violent 20th century anti-black riots that occurred in tulsa, oklahoma, and rosewood, florida. for injustices in every single historical moment, no more than 7% of white americans supported reparations. while a solid majority of black people did in each case. even more telling, those who supported reparations for past injustice also wanted to see swift action to assist the victims of the katrina disaster. those without a sense of urgency about past reparation also lacked urgency about contemporary injustice. in pain staking detail and relying on decades of historical scholarship, the case for reparations is now on our newsstands in this month's issue of the "atlantic" magazine. it's by ta-nehisi coates. over the course of 18 pages, coates draws on the work of scholars and the experience of ordinary americans to indict america's systemic and ongoing theft of black wealth.
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writes coates, the memories of those robbed of their lives still live on in the lingering effects. indeed in america there's a strange and powerful belief that if you stab a black person ten times, the bleeding stops and the healing begins the moment the assailant drops the knife. we believe white dominance to be a fact of the past, delinquent debt that can be made to disappear, if only we don't look. but there has always been another way. up next, mr. coates joins me at the table to discuss his case for that other way. >> we can't talk about the economic problem that the negro confronts without talking about billions of dollars. we can't end slums in the final analysis without seeing the necessity to take profit out of slums.
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wednesday night more than 15,000 word long piece in this month's issue of "the atlantic" set the internet on fire and sent radio and television booking producers scrambling to make calls and send e-mails in hopes of reaching the writer, all because of this modest headline "the case for reparations" and because of the breath-taking claims, like this one. perhaps no number can fully capture the multi century plunder of black people in america. perhaps the number is so large that it can't be imagined, let alone calculated and dispensed. but i believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as, if not more than, the specific answers that might be produced. an america that asks what it owes its most vulnerable citizens is improved and humane. an america that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future. more important than any single
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to any african-american the payment of reparations would represent maturation of its childhood myth of its innocence and into a wisdom worthy of its donders. ta-nehisi coates is here with me today. nice to have you back. >> thank you for having me, melissa. >> you said the number might be too big to calculate. but if there were a number, about how big would the check be? >> you know, melissa, i don't actually think we know and here's why. you're talking about 250 years of slavery. you're talking about stolen labor from people and it's not like it ends there. after that you are talking about basically lasting a century of terror, lynchings, you're talking about being deprived of the vote, being deprived of adequate education, you're talking about being cut out of one of the greatest wealth-building policies in american history when you're talking about housing, gi bill, the list just goes on and on. it's one of the main reasons why if there was one modest proposal
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that i made it's that we should support hr-40 and have a study. we've got to get a number on it, but we're talking about a lot. >> part of what is stunning about the piece, and the reparations conversation does emerge in mainstream media every so often. but typically it is framed around enslavement and framed around the south. >> right. >> you spent very little time on slavery and very little time on the south. was that on purpose? how does it change our understanding of reparations to go to chicago and the 20th century? >> i've been an observer of some of these conversations before and i think what people who are against reparations or would have been sympathetic toward it, they immediately say those people are long dead and shut the conversation down. as though there's no one alive who has a claim. you know, just a brief familiarity with housing discrimination before i started on the research for the piece and it occurred to me that, no, no, no, there certainly have to be people who are alive that can make a claim for reparations, so
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i think slavery is part of it. it's not that it's not part of it at all but even if you wanted to throw slavery out, the last 100 years after that, those folks are alive and they certainly have claims. >> in fact not only alive and have claims but you give them voice. i want to talk about the contract buyers league. you write they were charging society with a crime against their community. they wanted the crime publicly ruled as such. they wanted the crime's exkurts declared to be offensive to society. they wanted restitution for the great injury brought upon them by said offenders. they were seeking reparations. tell me a little bit about this story. >> well, if you were coming into chicago in the 1950s as the main character in my story, mr. clyde ross was, you know, you probably could get a job. there were plenty of jobs available in chicago at the time, but one of the big problems was housing. black people lived in tenements,
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as you know. chicago as a matter of policy, following the policy of the federal government, had decided to build housing and restrict housing on a matter of race. so black people lived in segregated areas. folks would have money but wouldn't be able to get housing. this was happening at a time when the united states government was effectively subsidizing housing for everybody else, through the fha and holc. this happened for everybody except black people. what happened was people who were in the contractor buyers league ended up in a situation where they were taking loans with people who were not the most legitimate of loan providers. these are people who might be masquerading as the broker for the house or real estate agent but in fact were the owner and the lender at the same time, would have the lawyer in on the take. when the contract buyers league organized and decided to bring suit, what they wanted was some acknowledgement that the federal government had responsibility in this. it was private action, but it wasn't just private action. >> so you and i are both
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descended from peoples who might be part of a claimant group, if there was a reparation. if we were beginning to talk about an actual check. so i want to shift this a little bit and put you in a slightly different position and then ask you about reparations. so the story that you've written here is exquisitely written. i could write a story about women that is similarly about being shut out as a matter of policy, being robbed of labor, being in a contemporary moment, having our primary labor contributions to the market seen as valueless and experiencing terror and violence against our corporal beings. so i could write something similar about private action, federal complicity and individual prejudice. if i could, would you support my case for gender-based reparations. >> i certainly would look at it. i certainly would definitely look at it. i would love to see that laid out. i'm not against it. people get their back up when
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you say reparations. the idea that i'm giving my hard-earned money to somebody else, but that's just how government works to a large extent. the thing i point out all the time is, listen, i was not alive when world war i was fought. we're still paying out pensions. that comes out of my tax dollars. that's a basic idea of government. the country as a whole, the state as a whole makes commitments. i would love to see that argument. someone should make it. >> so even if you become the man who is complicit in this federal narrative, because in that moment you move from the complainant to the potential -- because i think part of what happens with white americans they see it as a personal affront -- >> but it's actually not. that's why the contract buyers league was saying we charge the society, the state as a whole. by the way, if there were a check, this is very hard for people to get their heads around. but african-americans, especially like me and you, would be claimants but we also have to pay too. >> yes. >> because we're americans. that's how it works. >> that's right. it would still be part of our tax dollars, which is part of
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the claim about the contemporary problem. we have more voices, we're bringing them to the table. we are not done about this conversation. to talk a little more about this, we've got the united states congressman who's been trying for 25 years just to get a study done on slavery and reparations. he's been blocked every time he tries. >> these people who have cheated us out of more than money, we have the right to be human beings in a society. i'm j-a-n-e and i have copd.
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(whisper hey there can i help you? (whispering) sorry. (whispering) hi, uh we need a new family plan. (whispering) how about 10 gigs of data to share and unlimited talk and text. (whispering) oh ten gigs sounds pretty good. (whispering) yeah really good (whispering) yeah and for a family of 4 it's a $160 a month. what! get outta here! (whispering) i'm sorry are we still doing the whisper thing? or? (whispering) o! sorry! yes yes! (whispering) we'll take it. in each session of congress since 1989, michigan democrat representative john conyers has made it a point to introduce a bill now called hr-40 whose official title is the commission to study reparation proposals for african-americans act. the bill, which has never made it to the floor for a vote, would authorize a study of the ongoing social and economic impact of slavery on the lives
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of african-americans and recommend to congress policy remedies based on the study's findings. representative john conyers joins me now from detroit. also at the table here in studio are ira katz nelson and the author of "when affirmative action was white." also professor at the university of pennsylvania and author of "sites of slavery, citizenship and racial democracy in the post civil rights imagination." congressman, i want to start with you. tell us what hr-40 is. mr. coates in the "atlantic" piece comes to at a minimum what we must do is take up hr-40. so tell us what it is. >> well, it's a bill that would set up a commission of seven people that would study the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery on
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living african-americans and recommend appropriate remedies. so it's a bill that will take reparations out of the discussion mode and put it in something in which the government would get behind. and by the way, our government has played a large part in perpetuating in the earlier days between 1619 and 1865 the whole idea of a slave society. as a matter of fact, it's banned in the constitution itself. no slavery shall exist in this country. >> so let me ask this, you have been insistent over the decades in introducing this and it is, of course, not a claim specifically for reparations but for a study of them. is it a fool's errand to keep
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doing this? why do you keep -- why the insistence on continuing to bring it -- to attempt to bring it to the floor? >> well, i don't give up. i mean if i didn't do it, i wouldn't be in the legislature doing what i ought to. i introduced the king holiday bill, it took 12 years. so these kinds of questions which aren't really on the minds of a lot of people, they say, look, we have an african-american president. i mean we're in a post-racial society. i don't think that's correct, but that's what we want to examine, and i think this discussion would be one of the healthiest that our leaders and citizens could engage in at this time. >> congressman, stay with me for a second but i want to come out to you, professor, because it is at the feet of reading your work
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that i learned that the middle class in this country, particularly the white middle class, was created by government policy. so explain that, because i'm not sure the people know that. i think they think they know there were good, strong people that saved mayor money and created the middle class. how did the government make the middle class? >> it was an extraordinary moment from the mid-1930s to late 1940s, early 1950s when the federal government enacted
crucial legislation that launched the modern middle class. social security was part of the story. so especially was the gi bill. the gi bill after the second world war brought home 16 million americans who were eligible for an extraordinary array of benefits. cheap mortgages, higher education, job training, job placement, small business loans. the bill was written in a committee in the house of representatives chaired by john
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rankin of mississippi who was terrified that african-american soldiers, a bit over a million of them coming home with those benefits would be part of this new middle class and would no longer be willing, as it were, to live under the system that kept them down. but the largely white middle and partly african-american middle class was fashioned through benefits created by the federal government for veterans, for old age, for a variety of social programs. >> congressman, let me come back to you. knowing a bit about that history, let me ask you a more contemporary question. is there anyone -- we wouldn't know as the public but who has whispered to you in the halls that, you know what, congressman, i'm actually supportive of this but i can't say it out loud. i can't say it because my constituents wouldn't support it. would you have any supporters that we would be surprised to discover were your supporters? >> well, there is some
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hesitation about this, but nobody tells me directly. we mutually co-sponsor each other's bills. but we have a lot of work to do because this is not a blame piece of legislation. we're not trying to blame white leaders in this country before us. what we're trying to do is examine the lingering effects of the incidents of slavery in american history and what and how it impacts upon african-americans and other minorities today. and to do that, we get away from the question of how much money should the check be and so forth. >> congressman, thank you for joining us from detroit this morning. are you back on the ballot, sir? >> oh, yes.
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absolutely. everything is good. >> and so i have no doubt since you're back on the ballot that if you are re-elected, you will undoubtedly be introducing hr-40. maybe folks will read "the atlantic" and you'll get a different result this time. >> i hope so. the case for reparations rests squarely on the shoulders -- president obama announced his new nominee for the head of the housing and urban development. the man who led that department during the clinton administration is henry cisneros and he joins us next. >> people on the west side and south side were being blamed for things that were not of their own making. this is the best example i can think of institutional racism. white folks created the ghetto, and it drives me crazy today even that we don't admit that. you've reached the age where you've learned a thing or two.
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among the most damning evidence in the case of reparations is the federal government's long history of discriminatory housing policies which have maintained the persistent gap between black and white wealth. in his article for "the atlantic" ta-nehisi coates quotes kenneth jackson who wrote of the housing administration's red lining plan. the federal government embraced the discriminatory attitudes of the marketplace. previously prejudices were personalized and individualized. fha exorted segregation andy shrined it. into the fha and that legacy is overseen by the department of housing and urban development. just yesterday president obama nominated san antonio mayor julian castro to be his pick of the secretary of that department. if he's confirmed by the senate, it would be the second of two positions he shares in common with my next guest, henry cisneros, former secretary of the department of housing and urban development and former mayor of san antonio and current
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chairman of city view. he joins me now from city view. so nice to see you. >> thank you. >> mr. coates makes this very compelling argument that federal housing policy actively created and deepened racial inequality. given the positions that you have held, what do you see as the responsibility of hud specifically and the federal government more broadly in addressing actively that inequality? >> well, i think mr. coates is right. the federal government does have a legacy of having tried to enhance housing and decent housing since the turn of the last century, but unfortunately, as you suggested in your remarks, because of the marketplace, because of the society at the time deepened the problem of segregation. fha is part of that legacy, but there are other examples as well. for example, the concentration of the worst of public housing in the big cities. in chicago, for example, all the concentration of all the public
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housing in selected neighborhoods in what became unlivable settings. just one more example. >> so let me -- >> subsidized housing that was done with section 8, for example, again creating concentrations of the very, very poor. so to answer your question, what can the federal government do? the main thing is to stop doing that kind of damage and then seriously enforce fair housing anti-discriminatory measures. we put a great emphasis on our watch on strengthening fair housing, which is intervening to say, you know, it is wrong to segregate, it is wrong to discriminate against people in housing choices. and the federal government has a huge role to play in that respect. >> so i love this. i'm married to a fair housing advocate and so affirmatively furthering fair housing is basically what we say as our prayer at night. but let me ask this because you talk about moving out the concentrated poverty of public
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housing. as hud secretary you oversaw president clinton's hope six effort which really fundamentally altered the way that the federal government gave housing assistance to the poor. so it's been 20 years, about 42% of the demolished public housing, only about 42% of it has been replaced. there are lots of critiques that in this attempt to disperse poverty, you also created circumstances where there were fewer opportunities for poor people to live. 20 years later, was it right? >> it's a really mixed bag in terms of the assessments, but i think the general assessment is we could not stand those just unlivable concentration of high rises in cities like chicago, baltimore, philadelphia, st. louis, all over the country, and having brought those down to create smaller scale, less dense, and then decentralize the subsidized housing throughout the metropolitan area has been a good thing. people have been exposed to better jobs, better schools,
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lower crime, and we've taken areas that were sort of -- they were sinkholes for any ability to invest in the city and created magnets where it's realistic that many of our cities are now coming back and central cities. but as you suggest, one of the really important things is to build enough affordable housing so that we don't have a shortfall, which is what we're experiencing today. in the aftermath of the recession, rentals are more unaffordable than before. people have less capacity and so only one out of four americans who's eligible for federal assistance, one out of four eligible gets it because there just isn't enough money for it. we've got to rebalance toward rental, toward affordability with a constant emphasis on fair housing. >> so let me let you in on this. housing was so much at the core of the piece. when you hear mr. cisneros, you have a sense of how hard it is if you're actually in government trying to make policy to balance these multiple interests.
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what do you make of this? >> what for another 10,000 words to write. this was like something that was right on the edge of this article. and i think everybody hates concentrated poverty. nobody wants to make an argument for that. but i think one of the sho shortcomings was it's actually racism. while we can remove concentrated poverty, a lot of these folks are being dispersed, african-americans that are teetering themselves. they are not the equal of white and black working class neighborhoods. it's not the same thing. so i think until we start dealing with that. which, you know, chicago still remains one of the most segregated cities in the country. until we have a direct address of that, i think we still have a problem. >> i want to ask you about that because i think when you say it's not just poverty, it's racism, that's a tough one for folks to hear. how do we think then about if i'm making policy, if i'm in the position of hud or if i'm congressman conyers, how do we think about making that argument
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and making that into a policy question. >> i agree that it is racism, there's no question about it. we had sophisticated testing capability at hud where we would send an african-american person to go rent an apartment that had been advertised and over the phone had been told be here at 2:00. when they arrived, the landlord said, oh, i'm sorry, we rented that apartment. i'm terribly sorry you had to make the trip, but it's not available. an hour later we'd send a white tester with the same demographics, income, age, and the landlord would say give me just a second, i'll get you the key and show you the apartment. so that exists in america and it's about race. that's why fair housing is so important. this is not a side light to policy, it's kind of what makes policy work. when you make housing available, the way you make it work is you insist that it's going to be available on a fair basis. >> i just want to mary these two points of fair housing and the larger conversation with reparations. what does reparations actually
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look like as a formal policy. one of the things i like about ta-nehisi's article is he points to this long history of african-americans who are trying to navigate and negotiate what it means to be an american citizen. so for most of american history, reparations is oftentimes cast as a fringe or radical issue but african-americans as you pointed out from your intro have been using reparations to make claims to citizenship and have been central to a social justice movement. so i want to use this -- it's almost like every generation has to find their way back to reparations because ultimately undoing the founding narrative of american slavery and forms of injustice that come from it are the key to racial justice and american democracy. so i think what does it mean to imagine reparations as policy. in addition to fair housing but to think about the question of reparations as a broader and systemic claim to the nations, claim to democracy and claim to racial equality i think is what this conversation can be about and what is so hard oftentimes
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for legislators as well as just everyday american citizens to imagine. the last point about reparations is that it's one of the few ideological issues that most white americans can rally around. so the last study was 2004. 95% of white americans say that they're against reparations but 50% of african-americans say they're for reparations. so what is it about reparations that can get most white people across ideological spectrums to resist it? that's what we need to also talk about. >> stay with us. i have to let you go from san antonio, texas, the former secretary of housing and urban development but i do want to say before you go, we are all hoping that the kind of blockade that we have seen on the president's nominees does not occur for mayor castro. we're hoping that he will be able to move forward. but i also have to make this personal note. i was a summer intern at hud during the years that you were secretary. there would be no reason you would know that, but undoubtedly being there at hud helped to probably create my marriage many years later.
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>> i'm glad you were there and i think julian will do a good job. i hope you're right. omb is a critical position that needs to be filled so that empties the secretary of hud post and hopefully they'll move both on omb and on hud. let me just say while on the question of reparations, while it's difficult to get one's head around, the costs, who it's extended to, what's the policy way to do it as has been referred to, in our society we know that ideas that are sometimes difficult at one point become acceptable at another as did reparations for persons who were put in concentration camps during world war ii. so it's a subject that ought to be entertained in a dialogue in our society. >> thank you so much. >> and an important one. >> thank you so much for joining us this morning. >> glad to be with you. up next, you can't really talk with reparations and ignore the modern day wealthy americans who own teams made up predominantly of black men and profit from their bodies and
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labor. don sterling, mark cuban and the nba when we return. memorial day weekend is coming. what are you going to do? ♪ sure. makes sense. but what about this? if you're looking to buy a car, now is the time and truecar is the way. but don't wait. after the record colds of this past winter, inventory has piled up...
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the los angeles clippers will be sold, it appears, just not by donald sterling. nbc news reported friday that sterling has given control of the team to his wife, shelly, and that she will sell the team voluntarily. the nba and commissioner adam silver, who have yet to accept this arrangement, have banned sterling for life last month shortly after his audio taped racial remarks were released. the league filed charges this week to terminate sterling's ownership of the team and owner has until tuesday to respond. the response to sterling's remarks from nba owners was more vociferous than expected. even the controversy dodging charlotte hornets owner michael jordan managed to speakup in protest. but it was mark cuban, the owner of the dallas mavericks, who sounded a note of caution. while he called the remarks abhorrent, he warned that a
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blanket call for the nba to kick sterling out of the league for something he said in private was a very, very slippery slope. in interviews published this week by ink magazine, cuban waded even deeper into the complicated discourse on race in this country. >> i know i'm prejudiced. i know i'm bigot ed in a lot of different ways. i've said this before. if i see a black kid in a hoodie at night on the other side of the street, i'm probably -- on the same side of the street, i'm probably going to walk to the other side of the street. if i see a white guy with a shaved head and lots of tattoos, i'm going back to the other side of the street. >> so let's review the whole story. wealthy owners, check. profit made from the sale of black bodies, check. racial angst, check. we're going to have more on the case for reparations after this.
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reparations in the new edition of "the atlantic," ta-nehisi coates writes this about the obamas. in the contest of upper mobility, barack and michelle obama have won, but they have won by being twice as good and enduring twice as much. whatever the obama children achieve, it will be evidence of their family's singular perseverance, not of broad equality. and yet, president obama in many ways is seen as a down payment on a form of reparation that already exists. >> i think people confuse individual achievement with racist inequality and those are two different things. it was great that jackie robinson integrated the majors. that didn't mean everything went away. it's great that we have a black president right now. that doesn't make everything go away. it's so interesting you read that particular paragraph because that was the one we fought the most over internally. but i think it's a very, very important point to make, that we aren't talking about a class-based thing here. or an income-based thing.
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we're talking about something that has to do with racism and that injures african-americans of all economic classes. >> so i want you to, professor katznelson, frame this historically for us. you make the case of reparations in the same week mtv releases a poll saying millennials think basically race is kind of over so you have a majority of millennials saying people should just get past race and having a black president means that things are okay. what do they need to know about history to help improve this? >> first, to note that the millennials who say that have a particular, very special set of experiences and contacts which are, alas, not representative of the united states today where the continuum has stretched. president obama on the one hand but heightened segregation, deepened poverty. the legacies of past policies continue to play out.
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the wealth gap between black and white americans is roughly 20-1, mostly to do with housing. those of us who have any resources of wealth gain them mostly through housing. and the legacies of the gi bill which work so differentially in discriminatory ways made it impossible for most african-americans to gain grab handles in the housing market years and years ago. and their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren continue to suffer. just the key history that i think has been forgotten is the role the federal government played not simply in the age of slavery, not simply in the age of early jim crow, but in the generation of our grandparents and parents in which federal policies in housing, in the way the gi bill was written and enforced, in the way social security excluded farm workers
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and maids, in all of these ways created a structure in which the resources in america were distributed deeply unevenly and they continue to be so in this country. >> so both your work and your public writing are about those structures. i want you in our last moments sort of give us the cultural overlay because part of what i think is going on with that millennial narrative is the movie "crash." you have this academy award-winning movie where the narrative is we're all kind of racist. so when you hear mark cuban say we're all kind of racist, then you think of course millennials think that. we give awards for movies who say everybody has these negative feelings. is there a cultural overlay that makes it hard to get to the structural narratives? >> i think it's the history and also the present that's being avoided. that's part of why we have another reparations debate right now because we're responding to contemporary conditions. so the millennials to come up
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with a narrative that's post racial or race is pass a, you have to -- you have to keep on avoiding thinking about the school to prison pipe line, so there are all these ways where you're avoiding the present in order to somehow imagine a racial inequality that has yet to be achieved or yet to be fulfilled. there's a disproportionate emphasis on those individuals who have achieved mass success. so whether it's obama or whether it's oprah -- >> michael jordan. >> right. so that they become only symbols of black exceptionalism but also they become the only image of blackness that gets perpetuated or used against which all other african-americans are seen. so it's a very slippery slope, all to do in the service of avoiding racial inequality. so the millennials i think it's not just with race, it's with gender i think as well. but to create this utopic
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future, they're avoiding the present. that's the danger. if you live in chicago, you can go down the street to another neighborhood and see -- >> and see those distinctions. >> or just stay in your neighborhoods in evanston and not see it at all. >> and you can read ira katznelson and ta-nehisi coates. i thank you so much for your work. ira katznelson's newest book is "fear itself." again, on your newsstands is "the case for reparations." coming up next, what's putting babies' lives at risk of the and how new york's first lady sparked a national conversation, lots of national conversations this week. more nerdland at the top of the hour. ...and we'll replace destroyed or stolen items with brand-new versions. we put members first. join the nation. ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪
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when folks think about wthey think salmon and energy. but the energy bp produces up here creates something else as well: jobs all over america. engineering and innovation jobs. advanced safety systems & technology. shipping and manufacturing. across the united states, bp supports more than a quarter million jobs. when we set up operation in one part of the country, people in other parts go to work. that's not a coincidence. it's one more part of our commitment to america. "hashtag love dad" when you think aarp, then you don't know "aarp". our aarp tek program helps people find better ways to better connect with each other. find more real possibilities at aarp.org/possibilities welcome back. i'm melissa harris-perry and we begin this hour with a mystery. a genuine mystery right here in america.
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one we first read about in "newsweek" magazine. now, before we get to this mystery, i'm going to ask you to come back with me to april 26th, 1986. when workers were conducting a routine test on a nuclear power plant located just north of kiev, ukraine. a series of issues led to a large power surge, one that triggered an explosion. >> in the soviet union, a major nuclear accident. there are casualties, perhaps many. the accident occurred at the chernobyl nuclear plant. one of the four reactors is the cause of the accident. the fact that it happened became known when radioactivity reached scandinavia. >> the explosion sent radioactive material into the air and it took that material as far as western europe. the region was evacuated, displacing 115,000 people. another 220,000 were relocated more than four years after the accident. the explosion led to concern about the health impact of the
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radioactive fallout. especially for the most vulnerable, including children. nearly 30 years later, those fears continue to be realized. the u.n. reports that by 2005, there were more than 5,000 cases of thyroid cancer among the children of chernobyl. the national cancer institute found in 2011 that the cancer risk had not yet begun declining, all because of what was in the air. and that in part brings me back to the mystery i alluded to earlier. what's in our air, our soil, our water is usually something we can't see. something the effects of which we can't necessarily even prove. but in cases large and small, there are potential environmental hazards that lead us to ask questions. in january last year i spoke with toxicologist howard milke about a rise in lead in the soil from the 1940s to the 1970s and if that may have had an impact on the rise in crime rates in
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the decades that followed. this january and february we covered the chemical leak in west virginia that left residents unable to drink or bathe in the tap water. mothers forced to mix formula with bottled water, concerned about the effects of contaminated water on young children. >> i'm trying the best i can to make sure he is safe. i can tend to myself and take care of myself, but he cannot. >> this morning we're exploring another story. a true mystery in the small northeastern rural city of vernal, utah, population just shy of 10,000. i'm going to caution you that this story is in fact a little hard to take. the "newsweek" article i referred to earlier is headlined "in utah boom town, a spike in infant deaths raises questions." the article focuses on the story of donna young, a midwife for 19 years, who has worked with hundreds of mothers in the area. in the past year, donna began noticing something that disturbed her, a series of
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infant deaths. young began looking through public obituaries to calculate the number of infant deaths in her community. by her informal count, the number was much higher than in prior years. now, young is not a scientist and there is more work to be done, but she was raising questions about air pollution in the area of utah. and if it might be correlated with what she believes to be a rise in infant mortality. in the utah basin where donna young began investigating infant mortality is one of the highest producing oil and gas fields in the country. it has 11,200 oil and gas wells. there are proposals for nearly an additional 25,000. a university of colorado study found that in the winter of 2009, ozone levels in the basin exceeded the epa national ambient air quality standard for up to 39 days. that's more than summertime values in the los angeles basin for recent years. ozone is a sendicondary air
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pollutant. activists, like donna young, and the organization utah physicians for a healthy environment have contacted state officials with their concerns, and the utah department of health has announced it will conduct a study of infant death records. the trade group western energy alliance has been funding the study of winter ozone formation in the basin since 2011. katherine sikama provided us with this statement which reads in part, the infant deaths in the area need to be investigated before a conclusion can be reached on what -- on the cause, which is what the state is doing now. attempting to tie those particular instances to ozone levels is extremely speculative, particularly since the health concerns of ozone are related to respiratory ailments, not infant death. it's much too early to jump to conclusions in utah before a range of factors can be
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investigated. indeed. that is why this story remains a mystery. but the fact of the matter is a community is concerned that newborn babies in this area seem to suddenly be dying more frequently than before. that at least should lead us to ask why. with me now from salt lake city is dr. brian mench, the president of utah physicians for healthy environment, a group that is part of a lawsuit against the epa alleging a failure to declare the basin out of compliance with federal air quality standards. doctor, thank you for joining me. >> good morning, melissa. >> so i want to walk through a few things with you. first, you've said that utah is set to become the epicenter of the global warming crisis. utah? help me to understand that. >> well, it's not very well publicized. you alluded to this fossil -- in the area, but what is not --
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>> all right. we're having a little bit of trouble with our feed of dr. moench out of you saw. we'll see if we can get that fixed. in the meantime i'm going to take a moment and provide an update on breaking news we are following this morning. at least seven people are dead, including a gunman, after a drive-by shooting rampage near the university of california santa barbara last night. seven other people were injured. police say when they responded to the scene, the suspect exchanged fire with officers before fleeing. the suspect eventually crashed his car and was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound. officials say they know the identity of the shooter but have not released it yet. authorities say they have obtained and are analyzing written and video evidence that suggests this was a premeditated mass murder. we're going to ask you to stay with msnbc throughout the day for the latest on this developing story. i'm type e.
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i think a woman will probably come your way. teacher layoffs. and a 60 billion dollar budget deficit. that's what john perez faced when he became speaker of the california assembly. so he partnered with governor brown to pass three balanced budgets, on time. for the first time in thirty years. today, the deficits are gone and we've invested an additional 2 billion dollars in education. now john perez is running for controller, to keep fighting for balanced budgets. democrat john perez for controller.
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this week saw the first monday of the 2014 legislative session in north carolina. you know what that means, it was also the first moral monday protest of the year. at least 1800 people gathered at the state house to demand the end to a radical agenda that is threatening to destroy decades of progress in north carolina. they call on their lawmakers to expand medicaid, to increase teacher pay and to end restrictions on voting. they came despite new rules that among other things bar protesters from singing, clapping or even speaking loudly enough to disrupt a conversation inside the legislative building. the rules were on one of the first orders of business for the republican-led legislature in an apparent attempt to avoid a repeat of last year when thousands demonstrated week after week and nearly 1,000
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arrests were made, shining a harsh spotlight on raleigh, north carolina. but the new rules did not deter the moral monday protesters. this monday, protesters led by the reverend william barber marched through the statehouse in deafening silence. as the session gets under way and legislators consider doubling down on their conservative agenda, you can be sure that we in nerdland will continue paying close attention, and not in silence. [ kc ] you're probably right. hi, cascade kitchen counselor. 1 pac of cascade complete cleans tough food better than 6 pacs of the bargain brand combined. cascade. beyond clean and shine. every time. than 6 pacs of the bargain brand combined. i missed you, too.ou. hi buddy. mom! awesome! dad!!
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or other types of cancer, have happened. blood, liver and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure have occurred. before starting humira, your doctor should test you for tb. ask your doctor if you live in or have been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. tell your doctor if you have had tb, hepatitis b, are prone to infections, or have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, or sores. you should not start humira if you have any kind of infection. take the next step. talk to your doctor. this is humira at work. i'm melissa harris-perry and i'm back. we had some technical difficulties a little earlier but it was an important story so i want to go back to that story. rejoining me now from salt lake city is dr. brian moench, the president of utah physicians for healthy environment. he is part of a group that is in a lawsuit against the epa
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alleging failure to declare the basin out of compliance with federal air standards. talk to me a bit more about this. you did say you did believe utah was going to become the epicenter of the global warming crisis. help me to understand why. >> well, in addition to the explosion of oil and gas drilling that has taken place in the area in the last, say, five or six years, there are also the lower united states largest deposits of extreme fossil fuels like tar sands and oil shale. the u.s. geological survey has estimated that there is more perhaps recoverable oil, basically fossil fuel/carbon, in the area from oil shale and tar sands than exists in alberta, canada, reservoir. they have estimated that it's 25 times greater. there is real intent on the state of politicians and others throughout the country to
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develop all the fossil fuels that we have. if those fossil fuels in the uinta basin, including the tar sands and oil shale, if they're exploited, utah really does become the epicenter of the entire attempt to keep fossil fuels in the ground and hopefully avoid the climate crisis. but right now the attitude of our state politicians is let's dig it, let's extract it and let's burn it. >> okay. so i think for many people who are thinking about issues of global climate change and of our resources and how we're meant to be stewards of them, as we heard the pope talk about this week, that is like -- this is sort of a big thing. and then there is this story. this story that we saw this week about infant mortality. the notion that it is possible that what is happening there is actually in this moment having an impact on the lives of mothers and children. but is it fair, is it fair to draw a causal arrow from one to the other? >> well, everybody has their own individual threshold for saying
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one thing causes another, but this is what we do know. there is an ongoing pollution nightmare, if you will, in the uinta basin. they have the highest levels of air pollution in the state of utah and some of the highest levels in the country. in fact, if you talk about the most deadly type of air pollution, which is considered toxic compounds like benzene which have been given names like air toxic or hazardous air pollutants, these are the most deadly compounds in air pollution. if you look at studies of concentration in the uinta basin of these types of compounds, one study published just one month ago showed that there are more of these compounds in the atmosphere of the uinta basin than you could attribute to 100 million automobiles. so it's a pollution nightmare. any time you have a pollution nightmare, you will have a public health nightmare if you look hard enough.
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many other pollution studies have shown repeatedly that infant mortality, like all other mortality in other all age groups, increases as air pollution increases. so it's not surprising to us at all that there would be a high infant mortality rate in this area. this really puts a human face on the tragic consequences of our ongoing fossil fuel addiction. now, we can't say for sure that each one of these infant deaths was due to air pollution. but you need to put that in context too in that if a person smokes cigarettes for their whole life and gets lung cancer, you can't say that person's lung cancer was due to cigarettes. you can say it's very likely due to it. so in this case we can't say for sure, but we think that all the evidence suggests that in fact air pollution must have played a role in this and we've also been following evidence that in fact there's a very high rate of birth defects in the same area. >> doctor, i appreciate what you said there, that it puts a human
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face on it. we have to be able to think very carefully about the fact that these environmental questions are not just out there, that they're right here and present with us. i'm sorry that we lost your feed earlier. thank you for sticking with us and contributing. we will keep our eyes on salt lake city and on this mystery. >> thanks for having me. now, we're going to turn now from a story about young babies and a story about sort of how we have to be thinking about them. we're going to back up and talk about a story of mothers. it's a hard transition, come with me, nerdland. listen, this week the "new york post" tabloid ran a cover on chirlane mccray who was the wife of bill de blasio. it said "i was a bad mom." inside it claims that mccray gave a quote, startlingly frank confession that she had, quote, initially neglected her daughter and eldest child. it was bound to horrify most moms and shatters the image of
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the close-knit family which helped vault him into office. what mccray actually said in an interview for a new york magazine cover story was this, i was 40 years old. i had a life, especially with chiara, until will we feel guilt forever more? of course, yes. but the truth is, i could not spend every day with her. didn't want to do that. i looked for all kinds of reasons not to do it. i love her. but i have been working since i was 14 and that part of me is me. it took a long time for me to get into the i'm taking care of kids and what that means. now, the mccray and de blasio family has broken a lot of taboos, about interracial marriage, sexuality as mccray came out as a lesbian in a 1979 column in "essence" magazine and only dated women before meeting de blasio. the couple's daughter admitted to struggling with depression and substance abuse and received an award from the federal government for speaking out about it. she was proudly introduced by
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both of her parents and yet this taboo, of a woman not being completely enthralled by motherhood, is one that may be a bridge too far. joining me now, nancy giles, also msnbc host craig melvin. also sachltlamisha tillit. so nice to have you all here. salamisha, are you horrified that she was a bad mom? >> she's my new feminist icon right now. >> she's go good. i know, i know, i know. >> but i do think a couple of things. one, that we could expect this from "the new york post" in a lot of base. but the ways in which she was constantly navigating being a mother at an older age, a mother who had been employed her entire life and readjusting to having an ambitious husband as well as having this young daughter and all of the ways in which she had
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to not only adjust to who her identity is but reidentify what mothering meant to her. the biggest thing from this article is not just that mothering for her is a feminist project solely linked to the individual child but she thinks of feminism and mothering as a collective project. the dance between thinking about her children and raising them in a safe and valid way, at the same time thinking about all of these millions of mothers in america who don't have the same access and opportunities and who are suffering because of lack of paid leave or lack of access to child care. so i found her to be a radical vision of feminism at this particular moment but also someone who is making us think about the possibilities of feminist mothering for both her children and for the collective. >> all right. so i agree in the sort of feminist icon piece. i agree, thank you, and on to commercial. but i loved that she sort of -- she pushes back and says it's not about leaning in for me,
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it's about asking questions about the big structures that impact all parents. but does that make her -- and i don't mean actually, but i mean by what we think of as what constitutes a good mom, does that in fact make her a bad mom because we don't want you to have complexity about it, we just want you to be happy. >> well, i was horrified at the ease with which she was called a bad mom. if you look at her choices, she after having this dilemma, after thinking that she could be a working mother and that that was the best, most responsible way for her to be a parent, the interview says that she decided to stop working full time for several years to take care of the kids, that she had put that first. that she had given up something she really cared about and something that she valued. it wasn't just that she was thank god i can stop working. i care about working but i've made this choice. and it's one that you would think on the "post's" own terms they would value and that they
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didn't. that the "post" is basically saying there's no way to be a good mother. and if you -- and it said that you have to work, being a good mother means being able to support your child to pay the rent for your child, then is the "post" requiring that you hate yourself basically. >> and i keep thinking that you are the ultimate bad mom. >> well, because i'm not a mom. >> because you made the choice not to parent. >> and it wasn't exactly a choice, but that could be a whole other show that i'd like to be a special guest star on. i was horrified. she's -- the whole idea of that bad mom. what a horrible thing. and may i just thing that not only was she taking care of her children, but she was also maternally taking care of both her mother and bill de blasio's mom. >> in the same house. >> right. >> and managed to have her marriage survive that. >> i'm telling you. by not having children, there are many different ways to nurture. but how dare anyone make any
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kind of assumption on what good or bad parenting is when as far as i know from not only my sisters and other people who have told me all kinds of things like don't tell anyone i said this but being a parent is overrated. okay, i'm just saying that. but the work and the difficulty of just adjusting your life, it's as ignorant as thinking -- and people will say you compared parenting to war? it's as ignorant as thinking someone could go to war, come back and just adjust like that. a baby comes out of you. you're dealing with a whole new life with your own valid life. it's difficult, and she was so honest about it. >> craig, have you had more than four hours sleep in the past? >> i am actually sleeping right now as i talk to you. >> because of course you're a new dad. >> i am. my son will be 11 weeks old on monday. one of the things that struck me about what she said in the actual article, not the garbage that the "post" decided to publish, and they knew when they put that snarky headline on the cover what they'd do.
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one of the things that struck me is the honesty and candor with which she talked about motherhood. we did not know what we were getting into. we had talked to people who had children, we knew it was going to be tough, a lot of diapers. we had no idea how all-consuming it is from the time you get up in the morning until the time you go to sleep at night. >> oh, craig. i'm an old mom, i've been doing this a minute and it's always funny to me. >> shut up. but here's the other thing, i think a lot of folks don't want to scare people away because they know human existence would cease to exist. but what struck me is the honesty and candor that she spoke when she said, you know what, i was 40 years old, it's my first child. i was up against it. i had no idea. and at the same time i wanted to continue to work. and then she does that and folks come out of the woodwork to crucify her. i wonder if someone had asked me and they had said how do you feel, i would have said the exact same thing. had i said that, had i been as
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honest achbd been as candid, i would not have gotten that criticism. >> our colleague, t.j. holmes, did write a piece called "i was a bad dad." he was the father of a new child and also had a child from another relationship. she talks about how as a young man he wasn't the father to that young daughter that he is now. when you read the comments there was a compelling sense of -- i thought that's wonderful, you have that sense of wholeness. but here's part of what i wonder. what if i was just a bad mom. let me just raise my hand. so i am not good at all things. i am a bad singer, i'm a bad -- so what if i were in fact a bad parent. we have people in this world who have been bad fathers but great physicists and great politicians, great artists. >> yes, yes. >> and it's just as different. if you're a bad mom, it is the wholeness of who you are. >> it's all consuming. and one thing that she was
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honest about was feeling guilt and that was one thing that then in "the daily news" she was attacked for. what do you feel good about is your neglect -- >> unfortunately, i think it's more acceptable to be a bad dad than it is to be a bad mom. if you're a bad mom, it's oh, my god. >> if you don't feel -- of course you feel guilty as a parent. you feel guilty about every moment. >> because there's another human on the planet. there's no way around it. >> think about the women in u h utah. what choices am i making, where do i live, where do i work, what job have i taken. maybe in the city. utah is family friendly. so everything, the whole world is a guilt machine in a way and that's a loving -- a loving thing that you feel that. and to not be able to admit guilt, everything -- it's a wonderful small person and you want to protect them and you need to, and you need to be able to say like how do i do this
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better. how do i look at my choices. >> stick with me, i want to talk more about that guilt machine within the political realm because there's a lot of mom shaming that goes on in american politician. we're going to take a quick break but be back with more. hey, i heard you guys can help me with frog protection? yeah, we help with fraud protection. we monitor every purchase every day and alert you if anything looks unusual. wow! you're really looking out for us. we are. and if there are unauthorized purchases on your discover card, you're never held responsible. just to be clear, you are saying "frog protection" right? yeah, fraud protection. frog protection. fraud protection. frog. fraud. fro-g. frau-d. i think we're on the same page. we're totally on the same page. at discover, we treat you like you'd treat you. fraud protection. get it at discover.com still running in the morning? yeah.
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♪ my mom works at ge. ♪ new york city's first lady chirlane mccray is not the first woman in politics to be mom shamed this year. texas gubernatorial candidate and state senator wendy davis faced backlash in january when the "dallas morning news" ran a story reporting that in her compelling life story, that of a young single mom who eventually went to harvard law school, some details had been blurred. among other things the "news" reported davis' second husband had cared for her two daughters while she went away to harvard. and when they divorced, he got custody. davis was called a bad mom by some on the right wing, like breitbart's ben shapiro who tweeted that wendy davis
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abandoned her children, had her husband foot her bills and divorced after adultery accusations. #feministhero. >> by the way, my wife left this weekend. i am a single dad this weekend. >> i am so glad you said this because i leave my kid every weekend with her father, my husband, and i fly to new york and i do the tv show. and every time you're like where is your child. i was like with her father. and people are just like oh, my god, alone? >> because again in 2014, i am convinced -- i did not believe this until two or three months ago, there still very much exists a double standard. if i were to do that when i leave in the morning and leave the child with my wife. >> with the mother? >> that's fine. >> you're the provider. >> he's going out. but when moms do it, it's -- yes, they are -- and sometimes it's like that, but other times it's like ben shapiro's tweet there, it's very much overt. and that's a shame.
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it's a shame. >> and so i want to bring this to the policy, because the thing is on the one hand it just feels bad and icky and awful because, damn, it's hard work and then you have people laying guilt on you. but then there's also material consequences to this, and particularly i think around women of color who are mom shamed. so i think about the entire structure of the american welfare estate, which is set out to mom shame poor mothers. to tell them you shouldn't stay home with your kids, you should go to work. and your lack of a husband is the cause of all societal disintegration. is it even possible for a black woman to be a good mom by the standards? >> yeah. i think that was interesting about "the new york post." on one hand it's so easy to coopt her into bad mothering because she's an african-american mother. in the long history of america, and i'm thinking of harriet jacobs and our last segment of reparatio reparations, but it was an
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impossible position for black women to be good mothers. you had no room to negotiator navigate their own humanity. speed up to alexandria mrsa and so you have chirlane mccray and michelle obama and alexandria mersa. black women who are protecting their children in the face of violence are being incarcerated at rapid amounts and there's a failure or inability for black women to be good mothers even in the face of violence. here we have an admission of feeling guilt, of feeling that she wanted to work. it's small in comparison to what we're talking about and she's still being shamed so i think it's impossible for black women to be considered good mothers. that's why michelle obama had to be mom in chief. >> i appreciate the point about we started with reparations but i appreciate the point in part about coming back to slavery because it is that reality that the first gift of an enslaved woman to her child was enslavement. because you didn't take the
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status of the father, you took the status of the mother, there was no way to give birth to anything other than an enslaved person and what that does to motherhood going forward. so we think an awful lot just about that giving birth. but as a part of what i also wanted to think about is in order to get to the bad mother, you have to presume that you mother alone or just with one partner rather than thinking of mothering as a community thing. >> i'm not going to say it because the last time i said that, it got real ugly. >> you get really lambasted. >> i'm not going to say it. >> i am so appreciative to be part of this group because i have not ever given birth. >> neither have i. >> i know. but you have a son. but i think there is a basic -- a basic bit of, i don't know, like tender or something like that. like almost a value that's put on women that only is fulfilled if you give birth. and i think that's the basic thing of jumping on chirlane mccray.
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if you do anything less than give birth and you're not perfect, there's something wrong. >> and enthusiastic about it. >> and don't ever say anything other than it's great. >> yes. >> and if you don't have a child, you're the ultimate bad mom. you're almost not even a woman, you're almost not even treated in the same way. not by anybody in this group but i've been shamed by a lot of mothers who have said things to me, well, you'll never know the kind of love that i know or try to include me by saying those who have children and those who are childless by choice. you don't know what my choice is. but it's endemic, it just happens. they don't recognize the fact that i had two ailing parents and i cared for them or even if i didn't that i love kids or even if i didn't, maybe i don't like that but i have nurturing ways with my pets or even if i didn't, i still have a right to be a woman and treated as such and not kind of pushed in the position of having to cover other people's schedules because i'm single and so and so is a mom so she needs to be covered
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or whatever. it's rough. it can be very rough. >> amy. >> look at de blasio's own life. his mother worked when he was a child because the father's alcoholism tore the family apart and he eventually left the family. and he said that he was raised by an extended family in brooklyn, not just his mother who was working but his aunt, his grandmother and that's what made that possible. that's what's so interesting about realizing that his wife's choices included taking care of his mother. so on one end of his life at a time when a lot of women weren't working, him becoming the person that he is is made possible by a working mother. then when his career was developing, it was made possible by his wife not working. so there are all these choices that interact and make lives possible. you know, going back to wendy davis, a man who sort of was away from his family to go to harvard law school would be seen as heroically sacrificing. >> and the very sentence that you could abandon your children
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with the father is indicative of whose responsibility we think it is. i so appreciated the piece because it really does a lot of this work because the love of parenting and the love of your children isn't uncomplicated. it is in fact most wonderful because it is complicated, because it is hard, because it isn't just some sort of switch that you turn on. and i have given birth. i've also experienced the miracle of surrogacy with our second child. and the whole point is that life is messy and that's the part that makes it good. >> something you said earlier really resonated. the fact that motherhood and parenthood, it's a part of who we are. >> yes. >> it should not define you. so that's what i took from the piece. >> craig melvin, thank you for hanging out with me today. i've been trying to get you to nerdland. >> every time i watch and come on, i learn something. >> i love craig melvin hanging out in nerdland. >> also thank you to nancy giles
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and amy davidson and salamishah. you can see more of craig melvin. he's got his own show later today at 2:00 p.m. i don't know who's watching that baby. but 2:00 p.m. eastern right here on msnbc. craig, after abandoning his son with his mother will have much more on this morning's breaking news. the breaking news is quite serious. it's a deadly drive-by shooting spree near the university of california santa barbara. police say that a gunman killed six people last night and then exchanged fire with police before crashing his car. he was found dead of an apparent gunshot wound. police know the identity of the gunman but have not released it. police are examining evidence, including video, that suggests the attack was premeditated. stay tuned to msnbc, including craig melvin's show, for the latest on this developing story. up next, my letter of the week. the problem isn't likely to go away... ...on its own. so it's time we do something about it. and there's help. premarin vaginal cream.
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is to remember the women and men who have given everything, even their lives, in service to our country. this year as we reflect on their sacrifices, we might find ourselves particularly angry because of reports that began to surface last week that veterans hospitals in arizona, texas and colorado manipulated waiting lists in order to hide long delays faced by veterans and that those delays may have resulted in the deaths of as many as 40 vets. those who have served deserve better. to serve is to answer a calling, and for far too long gender identity and sexual orientation have kept some of our bravest citizens from being able to answer that call. even as our nation is fine righting that wrong, there is one person that has never stopped fighting to keep lgbt americans out of the military and that's why my letter this week is to the president of the center for military readiness, elaine donnelly. dear elaine, it's me, melissa. now, elaine, you serve as the head of the center for military readiness, a public policy
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organization whose goal is to promote, quote, high standards and sound priorities for our military men and women. now, high standards are extremely important, but according to a recent and comprehensive report by think progress, your standards look more like exclusion. let's go back to 1993. >> ordered the secretary to issue a directive consisting of these essential elements. one, servicemen and women will be judged based on their conduct, not their sexual orientation. >> yes, president clinton used don't ask, don't tell to end the ban on gay men and women in the military. but in exchange for their uniforms, they were forced to stay in the closet. but even the closet was not segregated enough for you, because back then you said we don't feel that the soldiers who defend our country should be subjected to this kind of social experimentation. it's not fair to them. it's not good for our national defense.
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now, not only did you label brave, gay soldiers as social experiments, you also suggested they would bankrupt rather than defend our country. you claimed if we apply that to those who are at high risk of aids, we already know there are 10,000 nondeployable soldiers and their cost of care is about $200,000 each. okay, so clearly you were in some deep 1990s nonsense right there, but many years later you still weren't over it. in 2008 the first hearing on the policy 15 years after it was enacted, you railed on about transgenders in the military. lesbians taking pictures of people in the shower and gays spreading hiv positivity. okay. in 2010, don't ask, don't tell was repealed, clearing the way for openly gay and lesbian americans to serve. contrary to your dire predictions, there were no meaningful negative effects on military readiness, so you found a new target, trying to ensure the military did not recognize
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same-sex marriages. luckily the supreme court's ruling on doma last year stymied that effort, but you just would not quit and found one more way to try to par patriots from serving, by railing against the one group not protected by don't ask, don't tell, transgender service members. as expected, you found some divisive comments to say. saying transgender people would flock to the military to have their gender reassignment surgery paid for by the government and that their presence might lead to more sexual assaults. more than 20 years after you began your small-minded campaign, it might be time for you to have a seat. transgender americans serve at double the rate of general population and their service is part of what we, the american people, will celebrate on monday. because the american people overwhelmingly support equal treatment for lgbt americans in the workplace. so do i. especially when their workplace is the battlefield. sincerely, melissa.
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greg kaufman is a recurring guest here on mhp and one of the most dedicated reporters on poverty in america. he has a new website and through it, he's amplifying the voices that too often go unheard. talk poverty.org launched monday. the site provides a platform for those fighting in and fighting against poverty to share their stories. this one from witnesses to hunger. the blog arms you with statistics on poverty throughout the country. joining me is our foot soldier of this week, greg kaufman. nice to see you, greg. >> great to speak with you. >> you have been doing work around poverty for a long time now. this blog in particular seems to really be pulling together new
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ideas. what inspired you to create it? >> we're excited about it. working as a poverty correspondent, i came to realize there aren't many of us doing the kind of dedicated work you're doing. i felt like we had a lot more stories that need to be told. and so i really feel that the people living in poverty are at risk of falling in poverty and the people working on poverty every day, like joe burg, for example, can tell a lot of story themselves. i'm moving into editor role as well. it was a great launch. >> why do stories matter? why does it matter for us to specifically hear from people who are doing the work and who are themselves living in poverty? >> right. well, and i'll tell you, this is why the center for american progress has been such a good fit for the project. they have a campaign called half in ten. which is an aggressive campaign to reduce poverty by half over
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ten years, just as we did between 1964 and '73. so theme realy've really been dd to showing the personal stories so the debate isn't distract and there isn't misinformation. when you get the unique experiences of people, we can move beyond that, to see what policy solutions are really most effective. and so that's what, for example, the witnesses to hunger are doing. >> speaking of policy, i want to ask you one thing. on monday, house republicans proposed a budget for agricultural and food safety programs and it included cutting funds for the programs. it's a proposal that would allow kids only in rural areas to benefit. what do you make of this? >> well, don't you keep waiting for them to ask for a do over or explain there was a typo? what i make of it is they clearly don't realize what a widespread problem child hunger during the summers is. look, 14% of children who
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participate in the free and reduced lunch program during the school year, only 14% are able to access the summer food programs. and so i'd much rather see them embrace a bill by senator patty murray, who just introduced it in the senate, that would give these children an extra 60 a month. it will help during those summer months to make up for those meals. she pays for it by closing a tax loophole that encourages jobs to ship overseas. so, i mean, that's the kind of smart -- it's been piloted already, melissa. reduced child hunger by 33% in ten states during the summer. >> from my perspective, i don't care how she pays for it. if we're going to feed children, i'm down. greg kaufman in washington, d.c., thank you so much for being our foot soldier and doing the work you do. >> thank you for your work, melissa. and that's our show for today. thanks to you at home for watching. i'm going to see you again tomorrow morning. sports editor for the nation
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magazine is going to be back in nerdland because he is fired up over comments from international soccer legend. we're going to start with that and we're going to go around the world in 60 minutes. you do not want to miss it. >> i'm sitting here the whole time watching the show, it will be a good one. controversy at the 9/11 memorial. should there be a cafe and souvenir shop at the site? you're going to hear from family members about that. look who's talking. a new interview with vladimir putin. i'll get reaction to that. two u.s. senators standing by in the ukraine right now. >> they don't like the president. maybe he's the wrong color, something of that sort. >> that is senator jay rockefeller, suggesting republicans oppose president obama's policies because of race. we're going to get reaction in the 1:00 hour. and back to the beach by the numbers. what about a hotel? everything you need to know about the season, so don't go anywhere, i'll be right back.
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breaking news at this hour. information on a killing spree at a california child. who is the shooter and why did he do it? welcome. at this hour, investigators are looking at a self-made youtube video of the suspect behind a mass murder near the university of california at santa barbara. took the lives of seven people, including the shooter. today, investigators are looking at nine crime scenes created by this driveby shooting, including that youtube video. >> we are current ly analyzing both written and videotape evidence that suggests this was a premeditated mass murder. >> i want to